Everybody’s Chattin + Casting News w/ Idris Elba, Jessica Chastain & Jake Gyllenhaal

EverybodysChattinJuly

Happy Thursday, everyone! The nice thing about going to a work conference on Monday & Tuesday is the week feels shorter than it is, so tomorrow is Friday already, yay!

I got to see Jason Bourne press screening last Tuesday. I enjoyed it quite a bit though I think it falls short of the excellent trilogy. I’ll review it next week but I’m still a bit giddy for THIS scene in Vegas, whoah!

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Ok how about those links!

I’ll be seeing Suicide Squad next Tuesday, and Harley Quinn is likely going to steal every scene. Check out Margaret‘s tribute for Margot Robbie‘s character.

Jordan reviewed a new Aussie Western Goldstone

Boy I had no idea this movie even existed! Allie talks about Star Wars Holiday Special as part of Christmas-In-July blogathon

Mark and Getter‘s reviewed Independence Day: Resurgence. Not surprisingly, neither was impressed with this movie though I was surprised to learn Getter actually think Liam Hemsworth was good in it

Having just seen Jason Bourne, I totally agree with Nick that the Bourne movies are equally defined by the obligatory government antagonist. Check out the five actors he’d like to see in the role.

Steven reviewed Richard Linklater’s latest Everybody Want Some!

Let’s top it off with two awesome list posts! Alex posted his top 10 films of 2016 so far, whilst Dan posted his picks of 10 favorite French rom-coms of the 21st century.


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Life must be good to be Jessica Chastain. I love her, she’s gorgeous, talented and a bit underrated. Glad to see her continue getting roles and man does she have the best male co-stars or what! Tom Hardy, Tom Hiddleston, James McAvoy, Oscar Isaac… just to name a few, and now Idris!!! [yes clearly I’m green w/ envy] I’d LOVE to see her co-star with my crush du jour Sam Riley one day 😛

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Per The Playlist, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is going to have his directorial debut and he’ll also write the screenplay. His film is titled Molly’s Game and Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba have been cast as the leads!

Molly’s Game is the true story of Molly Bloom (Chastain), a beautiful, young, Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknownst to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally is her criminal defense lawyer (Elba), who learns that there’s much more to Molly than the tabloids lead us to believe.

I really like the sound of this! Chastain and Elba such talented actors and it’s a role that would suit them both. No talks of romance between the two but that’s actually refreshing! Though the idea of a love scene between the two sounds pretty scorching 😉 I just hope they won’t ever hide that gorgeous face of his under a ton of makeup like they did in Thor or Star Trek Beyond.

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Now this one doesn’t seem exciting on paper as I don’t really care for video game movies. But with this cast it just could be watchable. Per Variety, Jake Gyllenhaal is producing a video game adaptation based on Ubisoft’s The Division.

Set in a dystopian New York City in the aftermath of a smallpox pandemic, the player is an agent of the Strategic Homeland Division. That agent is tasked with helping to rebuild the Division’s operations in Manhattan, investigating the nature of the outbreak and combating criminal activity in its wake.

Not sure which roles Jessica Chastain will be playing. Of course it’d be neat if Jessica is the agent and Jake plays her ally, or villain? Speaking of video game movies, we have Assassin’s Creed starring Michael Fassbender out in December and Tom Hardy’s Splinter Cell out next year. It remains to be seen if any of those would actually be worth watching.


What are your thoughts about the projects and/or casting news?

Mini Reviews of Steve Jobs + Mr. Holmes + temporary blogging hatus

Hello everyone! You might’ve noticed I’m not blogging as regularly of late after the flurry of Twin Cities Film Fest. Well, I’ve been wanting to take a real blogging break and since this is Thanksgiving week, it sounds like the perfect time.

I’ve been wanting to really focus on my script and so I also plan to blog less in the coming weeks. I’m really close to finishing my script but as with many things in life, the last stretch is often the toughest. But before I do so, I wanted to share just my quick thoughts on two recent films in which the protagonist has been the subject of many films/tv projects. Thankfully we’ve got two very competent thespians in the lead of both movies (movie geeks will probably realize they’ve played the same role in the X-Men franchise).

STEVE JOBS (2015)
    SteveJobsMovie2015Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.

My hubby and I are huge fan of everything Steve Jobs had built, as we pretty much use solely Apple products in our homes: Macbook, iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, etc. So we’re quite familiar with his life and my hubby has read Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson and at first I was rather reluctant to see this given that it’s mostly a work of fiction. Well, ahead of the press screening, I read a bunch of articles that outline its inaccuracies, which I’ve listed in this comment section. That fact actually helped tamper my expectation about the film, but as soon as the film started I was immediately engrossed in the film. Ok so Michael Fassbender didn’t resemble Steve Jobs one bit, but it hardly matters once he started spewing lines from Aaron Sorkin‘s sharp script.

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I have to say the film is quite mesmerizing, Fassbender is as charismatic as ever, as I think he captured the essence of Jobs’s magnetic but difficult personality. Apparently he memorized the entirety of the 180-page script which is just incredible. The supporting cast is equally phenomenal. Kate Winslet is fantastic as Jobs’ loyal marketing exec Joanna Hoffman and the constant banters they have are entertaining, even her Polish accent is quite believable. But my favorite supporting cast has got to be Jeff Daniels as Jobs’ former BFF and business partners John Sculley whom Jobs stopped speaking with when he was fired from Apple. Even Sculley himself was reportedly impressed by Daniels’ performance, even though most of the conversations between them never took place. One thing I didn’t really care for is Seth Rogen‘s performance as Steve Wozniak, which seems so sensationalized and just didn’t ring true at all. Yes the rest was pure fiction but at least they seemed believable. It’s ironic since Rogen apparently met with Wozniak extensively for the role.

That said, I definitely recommend this film. Danny Boyle‘s fine directing brings the fine elements of the script and performance to life and the camera angles and intriguing shots certainly liven up an otherwise dull scenes of talking people. If you’re going into this film expecting excellent dialog and great acting, then you won’t be disappointed. Just don’t expect a documentary because Sorkin himself envisioned it more like a ‘painting, not a photograph.’

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Mr. Holmes (2015)

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Now, Sherlock Holmes’ adaptation has been done many times over, but this one seems to have an intriguing angle that’s rarely seen. The aged, retired London detective is dealing with early dementia, as he tries to remember his final case and a woman, the memory of whom still haunts him. Ian McKellen is perfectly cast in the role, playing Sherlock as a 60 and 93 years old. As he returns to Sussex  in 1947, he ends up befriending the young son of his housekeeper, Roger (Milo Parker). The interraction between these two is the heart of the film.

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The curious kid had been through Holmes’ study and it’s clear that he wanted the detective to work again. Through his proding and also because he’s still hunted by his final case, Holmes started writing again. The film goes through several flashback scenes, which is handled very well and definitely adds the mystery aspect one would expect from a Sherlock Holmes film. Hattie Morahan is terrific as the woman central to Holmes’ case and there’s a heartfelt exchange between the two that undoubtedly left a mark on him. As the film progressed, it’s apparent that the older Holmes is a changed man and that he has learned that intellect and logic alone often won’t solve issues involving matters of the heart.

McKellen is effortlessly magnetic here, as he always is, and he is whom I’d imagine an older Holmes to be. The usually excellent Laura Linney has a rather distracting British accent here as Holmes’ housekeeper, though I think towards the end she redeemed herself in the role. I do love Milo Parker as Roger who more than held his own against his much older and far more experienced co-star.

I wasn’t impressed with Bill Condon’s direction of The Fifth Estate (which strangely enough starred Benedict Cumberbatch who became famous playing Sherlock on BBC), but he did a good job here. It’s a slow-burn narrative that remains interesting even when there’s not much going on, and the film is beautifully shot. It’s the quintessential character study of a titular character that certainly merits its existence.

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Have you seen either one of these? Do share your thoughts in the comments!

FlixChatter Review: Jobs

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The main draw for me about this film is not the talents involved, but the subject matter of one of the most revered innovator of the 20th century. As a huge fan of Apple products, naturally both my hubby and I knew quite a bit about Steve Jobs’ life. My hubby more so than I am as he’s read a lot more stuff on him, including the Walter Isaacson’s official biography that’s published shortly before his death. There is another biopic in the works that’s going to be based on that book, currently in the development stage with Aaron Sorkin as the writer. Now, THAT is the biopic I’m looking forward to, which I read recently has gotten the blessings from Steve Wozniak. THIS film on the other hand, was made with no involvement from Apple whatsoever, Steve Wozniak himself would not recommend the film, saying he was ‘turned off’ by Jobs’ script (posted in the comment section of Gizmodo.com review the film.

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This film focuses on the early years of Apple, how Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak first came up with the first personal computer. It began with one of Job’s famous keynotes (or Stevenotes) in 2001 when he unveiled one of Apple’s masterpiece iPod, which forever changed the way people listen to music, and the music industry itself. Then it wind back about 30 years with Steve sleeping on a sofa at Reed College, Portland, unsure of what he wanted to do with his life. It was shot in a whirlwind of vignettes with the Hippy-looking Jobs getting high with his friends, a trip to India to find ‘enlightenment’, working at Atari where his insolent work ethic clashes with his co-workers. All of this happens relatively fast, but I felt like the movie sort of got off in the wrong foot for me as even 10 minutes in, I already found it to be tedious, even grating. To be honest, despite their physical resemblance, I’m not exactly fond of Ashton Kutcher‘s casting. He just gets on my nerves and seeing him portraying Jobs behaving badly just accentuates that.

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To be fair, as the film went on, I found that Kutcher’s portrayal isn’t the worst part of the film. I actually think he did his best with imitating Jobs’ gestures, the way he walked, etc., trying earnestly to shed the image of the dimwitted Kelso from That 70s Show. Unfortunately, there’s more to a compelling portrayal of a real-life persona that mere physicality. On top of that, the superficial, ‘episodic’ script from first timer Matt Whiteley doesn’t do him any favor. Once in flashback mode, the film pretty much tread along in a linear fashion.

Still, it was amusing to see how he and Wozniak ended up building Apple computers out of Jobs’ parents’ garage. Seeing what Wozniak (Josh Gad) came up with, which he didn’t seem to think much of, Jobs was inspired to combine a typewriter with a TV, and that’s how Apple II was born. Then came Mike Markkula (Dermot Mulroney – who’s good here though he looks nothing like the real guy!), a former Intel engineer who came on board to fund their business. Apple II ended up being a hit at the San Francisco’s West Coast Computer Faire (Jobs was only 21 years old at the time) and the rest is well, history.

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I think people who are familiar with the story of Apple would recognize right away the supporting characters in the film: Matthew Modine as CEO John Scully (which Jobs personally recruited from Pepsi), J.K. Simmons as Apple Board leader Arthur Rock, as well Kevin Dunn as CEO Gil Amelio which Jobs ousted in 1997 in a boardroom coup as Apple stocks continued its downward slump.

Yet the dramatization just isn’t all that compelling. In fact, for a biopic about one of the most creative brains of this century, the way his story is told lacks creativity. Director Joshua Michael Stern often tries to hard to be imaginative with his camera angles and whatnot, i.e. blurry effect before a scene comes into focus, but it feels too gimmicky to me. All the details about Jobs’ quirks (being a fruitarian, lack of physical hygiene, his temper tantrums, etc.) are well-covered here, but the film never really captured the ‘essence’ nor the ‘heart’ of the character. It seems that the film is far more concerned about portraying the ‘genius’ aspect of Jobs, completely glossing over his personal life. It’s never explored how he went from being a complete jerk to his pregnant girlfriend to being a family man with Laurene Powell up until the day of his death. Not sure how he got around to naming the first Apple computer after his first daughter after he vehemently rejected the idea that he was the father.

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In the finale, when Jobs recited his most famous quote for his Think Different campaign, I didn’t feel that this film earned it. I remember being so moved when I first heard that quote years ago that ends with “… because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Yet hearing it at the end of this film didn’t quite have the same impact. Perhaps because the Steve Jobs as portrayed in this film failed to connect with me. If anything, it makes me long for the other biopic that I mentioned above.

Final Thoughts: Subpar script, lackluster direction and that Kutcher’s lack of dramatic chops contribute to something that looks more like a TV movie. Heck, even the decidedly made-for-TV Pirates of Silicon Valley that focused on the parallel lives of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs got a much better critical reviews. I really think the people involved in this film tried to bite more things than they can chew, perhaps it might’ve been better if they had narrowed the scope of the film and focused on a certain period of Jobs life instead. So yeah, this one certainly would NOT end up in my list of favorite Biopics.

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Well, what do you think of this film and/or Ashton Kutcher in general?

Music Break: The American President (1995)

Welcome to another edition of the Music Break series! Apparently I skipped one in October with the TCFF festivities. Well for this week, I was raking my brain to see what soundtrack I would highlight. Well, given today is post-election Wednesday, I figure it’d be fitting to highlight this Oscar-nominated score as Barrack Obama has been re-elected to stay on as The American President!

This film by Rob Reiner is one of my favorite rom-coms ever! Even though it does have political theme, the movie is more about the relationship between the widower commander in chief Andrew Shepherd and an environmental lobbyist Sydney Ellen Wade. In the movie, the popular Democratic President was also running for re-election. I love Michael Douglas and Annette Benning in this film, they have such an effortlessly playful chemistry and the dialog is full of wit, thanks to Aaron Sorkin’s script. No wonder it ranks number 75 on AFI’s Greatest Love Stories in American Cinema!

One of my favorite part of this movie is the lovely music. It has that dignified, ‘presidential’ feel to it but also kind of romantic.

Composer Marc Shiaman has frequently worked with director Rob Reiner, previously on When Harry Met Sally and A Few Good Men. He’s been nominated for Oscar five times, starting with Sleepless in Seattle (1994), The American President (1995), The First Wives Club (1997), Patch Adams (1999) and South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut (2000).

It’s interesting to note that this movie inspired Sorkin to write the TV show The West Wing, and Martin Sheen got an upgrade from playing the White House Chief of Staff to playing President Bartlet on the show. Though the film’s president is from the Democratic party, the music apparently transcend party lines. According to its IMDb trivia, the theme was also used as the background music in ABC television’s coverage of President Ronald Reagan’s funeral.


What’s your thoughts on today’s movie music?